If you haven’t already heard about the ZIKA virus, then we’re glad you stopped into our blog, because we want to inform as many people as possible. Yes, this virus is serious, as the World Health Organization has already ranked it a “public health emergency of international concern,” which we’ve seen in the past with the H1N1 pandemic as well as the Ebola outbreak back in 2014. What exactly is the ZIKA virus though, you might ask?
Some people infected with the ZIKA virus may not show symptoms, and others may show mild symptoms. The symptoms that this virus can cause include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain, and headaches. Symptoms can last any from a few days to a couple of weeks, and once a person is infected one time, they will likely be protected from any future infections of ZIKA. So what makes this virus so risky?
There are a few things to keep an eye open for when it comes to the ZIKA virus. If a pregnant woman is infected with the virus, her baby could have a birth defect in the brain, which is called microcephaly, and other severe brain defects as well. There could be defects of the eye, hearing deficits, or even stunted growth. There are also some signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome in some people that get affected as well.
There are many ways that this virus can be spread, unfortunately. One of the most common ways that it can be spread are through mosquito bites. If a mosquito bites a person that is infected with the ZIKA virus, then bites into another person who is not affected, they will catch it. This is especially dangerous for outdoor works, and OSHA has even gone out of their way to give recommendations for keeping outdoor workers safe from ZIKA, but we’ll talk about that in a minute. Generally speaking though, employers should be warning their workers about the risks of being exposed to ZIKA to keep their team safe.
Generally speaking, to avoid infection, you’ll want to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and treat your clothing/gear with permethrin. When it comes to using insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites, you’ll want to use one of the EPA registered insect repellents, and it must have one of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Make sure not to use insect repellents on babies less than two months old though, as it could be harmful for them. At home, you’ll want to stay in cooler areas, especially with air conditioning, and keep all windows and doors shut or screened off so that insects can’t get in. Lastly, make sure to use protection during intercourse, as ZIKA can be transmitted sexually as well.
We hope that this information has helped, because the more people we can help prepare, the more we can prevent the virus from spreading worse than it already has. If you are infected, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, take medicines to reduce fever, avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, and talk to your healthcare provider about any further medications that you should be looking into. Remember, knowledge is power, so be sure to share this blog with your friends and family so that we can stay prepared together!